The audience is forced to choose one of the two realities in Underworld: Awakening, both of which are extremely hideous – either writer/creator Len Wiseman is a cash-grabbing deluded buffoon or he’s constantly making more Underworld movies to prove to the world that mediocrity makes you rich.
I’d vote for the latter, because Underworld: Awakening is a movie that clearly loathes its audience and laughs at those who write essays about how shamelessly Hollywood milks cash cows. If it were something like Fast 5, then the newest Underworld film would have had a leg to stand on. As it stands, Len Wiseman, his wife and star Kate Beckinsale and everyone at Lakeshore Entertainment are simply shoveling muck and wasting everyone’s time. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, by all means watch it. I laughed a dozen times during the film, mostly at the lame philosophical commentary where humans, and not vampires or werewolves are described as the real destructive species. It does work as an unintentional comedy, but the real joke is on anyone who pays the premium to see it in the eyeball-maiming 3D and anyone who actually thinks 3D is the future of cinema.
Like Fast 5 proved so well, fourth or fifth installments of sagging franchises can be fun – there is always potential for something interesting, but directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein’s lack of interest in entertaining us at any point in the film makes Underworld: Awakening a mostly unbearable watch. The film opens a few months after the events of Underworld: Evolution. Vampires and Lycans (werewolves) still war against each other on earth. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) loses her lover and is captured by humans who have discovered the existence of vampires and lycans and are exercising a global pest control operation. What follows are a series of events so predictable and repetitive that it makes the Mortal Kombat movies feel wholesome. And seeing Stephen Rea as an antagonistic scientist, squandering his talent and wasting his time with this migrainefest is a real shame.
Kate Beckinsale as usual looks mouthwatering in jet black leather, but mostly emotes and behaves as if her brain had been instantaneously replaced with gajar ka halwa. Neither does she kick butt nor does she carry the film on her shoulders. What she does accomplish is make us see that she doesn’t care, which would be fine if only she didn’t ask us to either.
None of the previous Underworld films had smart dialogues, and Underworld: Awakening takes the exact same route - there's not a trace of wit or imagination in the entire film. The movie even fails when it comes to the action, which is frustrating because the least it should’ve done was to create a fun rapport between Seline and outsize machine guns. Majority of the CGI set pieces are frequently tedious, loud and insipid as Selene just keeps pulling the trigger in the vague direction of the werewolves. Underworld: Awakening is a tiring, pointless fourth installment that annoys thanks to its horrid script, unexciting vampire-lycan thumbwrestling, laughable characters, a complete absence of intelligence and the nonexistence of anything even remotely resembling a plot. Watch it if you’re an acute insomniac, you’ll snooze so peacefully even the constant lycan roars won’t get you awakening.
(First published in Mid Day)